Ruth Hodges is a Director of Rural at Colliers and is based in the South Island. Hodges has more than 10 years’ experience in rural real estate and has held a number of senior roles at Colliers.
As Colliers celebrates International Women’s Day this week, find out what she loves about working in rural real estate and how the industry has changed during her time in the job.
What is your background, and how did you get to where you are today?
I grew up on a large-scale, high-country farm in Central Otago, which put me on the path to working in the rural sector. After studying at Otago University, I worked in rural finance at the National Bank before working for dairy firm Synlait as a Business Development Manager. I began in rural real estate in 2009 and alongside Shane O’Brien I established the first Colliers Rural and Agribusiness franchise in New Zealand in September 2014.
What do you love about your job?
I love that I get to work in the rural property space that has such a wide variety of sectors and that each have their own unique set of business aspects. I have huge variety not just in terms of the types of clients I get to work alongside, but also in terms of property and business types. I get to learn something new every day. I get to spend time out of the office and on the land and hear the stories (often inter-generational) about families and farming businesses. I am so privileged to see some of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand that are often never publicly available. I love that I get to help people achieve their goals no matter how small or big. I love the challenge that selling rural property entails – the complexity of the businesses themselves as well as to tending to conflict resolution. I love that I get to form long and ever-lasting relationships with my clients and that they respect and value my knowledge and experience.
How has the property industry changed since you started?
Hugely – when I started in 2009 most rural real estate agents showed the physical attributes of a farm or rural property and that was it. However, the rural space needed more, and I help frontier change. Most rural properties are complex businesses with complex resource management that needs a professional who understands and is able to navigate their way through these complexities. Buyers have changed from it just being the farmer next door (they are still important) to corporate entities and buyers from out of the region (or country). There are more buyers of scale, including portfolio farming enterprises. Farms are becoming bigger; farming families are becoming farming corporates. The environmental piece around farming has changed significantly. There are more rural professionals to consult with.